Moral dilemma-need some thoughts

  WhiteTruckMan 14:14 14 Jun 2008

Hi all. I could do with some input over this.

Yesterday at one of my customers i was asked if I wanted a scrap laptop. Silly question, I thought as I said yes. Turned out to be a fujitu siemans amilo laptop with a completely knackered screen that had been salvaged for spares (so I was told) and had been written off. So I took it home, complete with written permission from the customer in case I was stopped and searched by my companies security. Anyhow, apart from the screen damage, all that was missing was the power supply and all the cd's. I had an appropriate power supply spare and last night while it was on charge I removed the screen, thinking if all else fails it will make a spare machine when connected to an external monitor. Well I fired it up this morning into vista basic to be blocked by the previous owners password.the guest and admin accounts were disabled, and it took me about 30 mins to get round the password. What I found was a whole load of personal family pics, some porn(expected, but nothing out of the ordinary and nothing to worry about either) and I also have the owners email address.

Heres the dilemma: should I attempt to contact the previous owner with an offer of sending on in one form or another all the personal stuff, or should I just wipe the machine and forget about it? I have no problems for myself as I came by the machine legitamately, and can prove it. I will also have to speak to the people who I got it from as I dont know what their position will be, but they did tell me at the time that it would only end up in the skip.

Assuming they are ok with it, what do you think?


  belfman 14:25 14 Jun 2008

Erase it all, they accepted the loss of the data when they passed the lappy to you.

  thms 14:31 14 Jun 2008

Agree with belfman. Wipe it, not everyone will be happy to find out you are in possesion of their personal details.

Can of worms springs to mind.

  rdave13 14:34 14 Jun 2008

Agree with belfman. Laptop scrapped so previous owner accepted loss of data. Possibly has backups anyway.

  Pineman100 15:25 14 Jun 2008

Broadly, I agree with the others.

But if you're still uncomfortable, how about contacting the previous owner and saying something like, "I think I may be able to rescue a few of the components. If I manage to get the hard drive working, is it OK to delete any old files on there?"

But personally I wouldn't bother.

  tullie 15:35 14 Jun 2008

Wheres the dilemma?Reinstall.

  jack 15:43 14 Jun 2008

Just in case the owner was not aware aof the possibilites of data retrieval- no with withstandg the numbers of folk that come here and read comnputer literature and Horror news stories
A majority are completely unaware of what can be dome.
So contact the former owner who has given you peermission and tell him look the data is still there is it important would you like it or shall I wipe it?
Then you can do either or with a clear concience

  recap 15:49 14 Jun 2008

I agree with Pineman100's suggestion:
"But if you're still uncomfortable, how about contacting the previous owner and saying something like, "I think I may be able to rescue a few of the components. If I manage to get the hard drive working, is it OK to delete any old files on there?"

Eight years ago my then boss and I were at an auction and bought a couple of old computers. I was given the task of checking them over. I found that both had a lot of financial information on them from the previous owner. We contacted them and they were grateful, they came round to us the next day took a full back up and wiped the drives clean. It worked out OK for us as I was working for a charity and the company arranged for their next redundant computers to be delivered to us free of charge.

Sorry to put a spanner in the works WTM.

  spuds 16:00 14 Jun 2008

Technically you are breaking no laws by wiping the machine clean (Found that out by buying from auctions and contacting the relevant bodies). But on a moral issue (which can be very niggling), I would suggest that you send an email to the previous owner of the contents, and see what the response will be.

  Marko797 16:14 14 Jun 2008

I'm with belfman & thms. It could prove embarrassing if you let the previous owner know you have his data.

  bjh 16:53 14 Jun 2008

I vote for the wipe and forget school of thought.... but you might wish to dump all the documents and photos on a DVD just in case your conscience pricks you in the future.

Was the bloke you bought it from the creator of said documents and photos? You could ask in a roundabout way some months later... "Oh, haven't got round to that old laptop yet... Is there likely to be anything you want salvaging, or shall I just chuck the hard disk?"

But, were I the seller, I'd feel it is yours to do as you want!

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